Former Dem Threatened With Legal Action Over Last-Minute Voter Data Download

The Alabama Democratic Party is drafting a letter to Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) threatening legal action if he does not delete voter data the Dems say was improperly accessed by Griffith operatives on the eve of his party switch.

Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, tells TPMmuckraker he plans to send the letter to Griffith and Main Street Strategies, the consulting firm accused of downloading the confidential information, today.Griffith’s office is pledging to delete the data, which it says was generated by the campaign anyways. But Spearman told us that he doesn’t think the information has been, or will be, deleted.

Meanwhile, in an interview with us today, a spokesman for the state GOP left open the possibility that the Dem voter data could end up in the hands of the Republican Party.

Here’s how it all happened, according to Spearman: On Dec. 21, the day before Griffith announced he would become a Republican, his political consultants at Main Street Strategies accessed a Democratic Party database. Someone at the firm downloaded several thousand voter IDs (eg “strong Democrat” or “leans Republican”) associated with calls made by the party in Griffith’s 5th congressional district. Main Street also got information on people who had put up yard signs and volunteered for Democratic candidates.

According to Spearman, Dem records also show that Main Street tried to download the full voting history of the district but didn’t have a required password. He says Main Street hadn’t accessed the database in many months, until the downloads on the day before Griffith’s switch.

Dem officials realized what had happened when they went “to check all of our files to make sure Griffith’s people weren’t doing what they did.” They went public with the charge Dec. 23, the day after the switch.

In response to our questions, Griffith aide Gene Tackett sent this statement, which acknowledges that some information was accessed:

The information accessed by the Griffith campaign was a list of past Griffith campaign volunteers, yard sign locations and past Griffith supporters that was originally generated by the Griffith campaign. It is our belief that this information is the property of the campaign but in view of the objections from the Alabama Democratic Party we will delete all of the information and make any returns requested by the Democratic Party.

We’ve followed up with Tackett to ask if the data has yet been deleted, and, if not, when it will be.

Spearman, for his part, isn’t buying it. “With data, it’s going to be their word against ours” on whether it’s actually been deleted, he says. “His word is not real good right now with me.”

A spokesman for the Alabama GOP tells TPMmuckraker he believes the Dem charges are trumped up.

“The Democrats got caught blindsided, and they’re looking for any angle to get rid of some of that anger and betrayal that they feel,” says Philip Bryan.

Bryan also leaves open the door to getting some of the Dem data from Griffith — if the campaign chose to hand it over.

“If Congressman Griffith — or any candidate — wants to give the Republican Party his lists of donors, campaign workers, volunteers, we’ll gladly take those and put them in our voter file.”

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